Layer, a leading startup in its field, is headquartered in the Bay Area. Since its inception in 2022, the company has been at the forefront of providing businesses with a comprehensive set of customizable and easy-to-use user interface (UI) toolkits.
Layer is unconcerned with recruiting the highest calibre of software engineers from the vicinity, unlike many of its rivals and competitors, as it has an extensive network of software engineers located in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Layer has always adopted a remote working model, due to the tight competition in their home market, as well as their early realisation of the advantages of having a diverse workforce. This strategy has proven successful, largely due to the experience and expertise of the company’s Vice President of Engineering, Kevin Schraith. His understanding of processes and cultural awareness, gained from his time managing remote workers from Paris at Salesforce, is key to the successful implementation of dispersed work.
Schraith acknowledges that there is some initial reluctance among his coworkers to employing talent who work remotely; they may have preconceived notions that this is a form of outsourcing, which could be intimidating. However, if the right attitude and care is taken in the process, there is potential to benefit from widening the scope of talent search beyond the local area.
In particular, Schraith’s method is based on the following three guidelines:
Choose candidates who will contribute to the company’s culture rather than merely those who have the necessary skills and expertise.Schraith asserts that the level of dedication demonstrated by the team is essential for the success of any undertaking that is conducted remotely. For any organisation that is serious about embracing dispersed practices, Layer must come up with strategies to integrate its latest members, particularly those who work from home, into the overall business.
Despite its frequent omission, cultural compatibility is of utmost importance for a successful project, according to one expert. Without the necessary cultural alignment, individuals may have negative experiences with outsourcing or remote work, as they tend to select based on resume line-items without considering cultural compatibility. As a result, the engineers they hire may be solely motivated by the money, and not by the quality of the product.
Schraith acknowledges that it can be challenging to accurately assess a distributed developer’s cultural fit without taking the time to get to know them better. “However, there are certain moments where it is immediately obvious that the developer is a perfect match,” he adds.
Schraith highlighted Wale’s contribution to the Layer’s Works team culture when he described how Wale participated in the team’s weekly ‘Hawaiian shirt day’. Wale’s enthusiasm for the initiative demonstrated his commitment to team spirit and his willingness to engage with the rest of the team. This caused a great deal of appreciation among the engineers, and the team’s morale was positively impacted as a result.
He demonstrated his commitment to the firm and a desire to be part of the group through a small but significant action, and this dedication was reflected in the final outcome.
Use them as though they were already on the ship.It is essential to locate a developer who is well-suited to the company’s culture; however, this is just the initial step in creating a powerful distributed team, as Schraith details. During the onboarding phase, it is vital to make a great initial impression, set the standard for the job and expectations, and become acquainted with each other, according to the author. This will help to ensure the successful integration of the new team member.
Schraith’s philosophy on onboarding is similar to that of Works; both companies provide their partners access to their entire support team and fly their developers to their headquarters for an initial face-to-face meeting. He highly commends Works’ onboarding process, noting that “the face-to-face meetings at the beginning of the job are invaluable,” which is a huge advantage. If an in-person meeting is not possible, then a significant amount of time spent chatting and getting to know one another on a personal level can help to form a strong working relationship, which will go a long way to increasing motivation.
Communicate. Re-establish contact. And then have another conversation.In Schraith’s view, a remote workforce can only succeed if its members are committed to and practice excellent communication.
It is a misconception to think that inefficient communication techniques only interfere with remote working teams. In reality, they can be just as detrimental to a traditional workforce. According to Schraith, any strategy should begin by recognising that communication between distant colleagues is generally inadequate, thus managers should make a conscious effort to communicate more than they usually would in order to make up for the perceived lack of communication.
Young developers may be reticent to admit when they are unaware of something, particularly if they feel like outsiders due to not physically being in the office. They may be reluctant to speak up, instead opting to keep their thoughts to themselves and pray for the best, an approach which all managers are aware is not beneficial.
Schraith proposes that increased communication is the key to resolving any issue. He suggests a variety of text messages and follow-up communication, which could potentially be viewed as excess and intrusive. To summarise, if the communication is conducted through the appropriate channels – such as asynchronous messaging – then it will be perceived as helpful advice and clarification, rather than an overwhelming amount of inbox messages.
In addition to Schraith and Layer, numerous other teams who have embraced remote or dispersed working methods have acknowledged the benefit of sustaining an open channel of communication. This has been found to be a key factor in keeping employees connected and productive whilst working away from the traditional office environment.
He asserts that the most advantageous trait of modern technology is its simplicity, which provides us with the necessary resources and infrastructure to eliminate any excuses for inadequate communication.
If businesses follow Schraith’s recommendations, they will be better prepared for a scattered future.
When asked to summarise what is required to do distributed well, he said, “Honestly, it really boils down to excellent alignment.”
Many individuals who attempt to utilise distributed systems, or who have had negative experiences with outsourcing, often do so due to their lack of understanding of the process. They mistakenly believe that since developers are not physically present, they are merely a nameless, faceless group of people with a predetermined set of skills that can be employed. To ensure success when outsourcing, it is essential to verify that the developers share the company’s values and objectives.